Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Medulin Solar Power Goal Given Spring in Step With 3.06 Million Kuna

May the 18th, 2022 - The Medulin solar power goal has been given a very welcome spring in its step in the form of a cash injection worth 3.06 million kuna in total.

One of the Republic of Croatia's (many) natural riches is the sheer amount of hours of unfiltered sunshine it gets on an annual basis, and one way in which Croatia could save an incredible amount of money, time and contribute in a very positive way to protecting the environment would be to continue to invest heavily in its solar power capacities. The Medulin solar power aim will certainly be launched thanks to this latest sum.

As Morski writes, based on the application of the Municipality of Medulin for the "Energy and Climate Change" programme, the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union (EU) Funds recently passed a decision on financing a project proposal entitled: "Increasing the capacity for solar energy production in public facilities of the Municipality of Medulin" in the amount of 3.06 million kuna. The Municipality of Medulin provided 287,889.00 kuna from its own funds for the project.

The project foresees the installation of seven photovoltaic power plants on the roofs of multiple buildings across Medulin, and each of the installed FNEs will be connected to the existing electricity network, with the aim of consuming most of the electricity produced at the facility and the eventual handover of "surplus" electricity which has also been produced back to the public electricity network, local portal Istra24 has learned.

The realisation of this praiseworthy project will enable the production of 0.234 MW from solar energy alone, resulting in savings and a better approach in regard to climate change and environmental protection. The newly installed capacities of the Municipality of Medulin for the use of energy from renewable sources will contribute to an increase in solar energy production by 330.42 MWh/year, while annual CO2 emissions will be reduced by as much as 52.41, according to a statement from the Municipality of Medulin.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Croatian Sunflower Power? Chance for More Exports Arises

May the 18th, 2022 - With the war in Ukraine still ongoing and prices for some of the most surprising items on the rise, could Croatian sunflower exports be the next profitable thing for this country? Some believe so.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine following Russian invasion back in February this year, there was a huge disturbance and uncertainty and shortages in supply, as well as a drastic rise in prices on the global market of sunflowers, sunflower products and particularly sunflower oil. Production of these products in Ukraine and Russia were of course deeply affected, and their exports otherwise dominate the global market. Is this a chance for the humble Croatian sunflower?

The most significant disturbances on the global market in the next period will be in the supply and demand of sunflower products such as the heavily used oil, due to the high concentration of production and the usual exporting of sunflower oil from both Ukraine and Russia. Any further prediction of price movements and supply in the market will primarily depend on the ability to supply sunflower oil and grain from Ukraine this season, but also the course of the war and the logistical conditions for the delivery of supplies to the rest of Europe.

“Croatian sunflower production has been growing over more recent years, in terms of production, although the area on which sunflowers are planted and cultivated hasn't increased. Croatia produces more sunflowers than it needs. Self-sufficiency stands at about 212 percent, but we meet only 44 percent of the need for sunflower oil. Given that we have production capacities for processing sunflower products into sunflower oil, it would be logical, given the rising prices, to provide larger quantities of Croatian sunflower oil and to process domestic sunflower grain in factories here in Croatia. This would ensure a stable supply of oil for the domestic market, and we have the capacity to export this highly sought after and now expensive product, which is in great demand in the global and EU markets,'' concluded the market analysis of experts from Smarter, a consulting company specialising in agriculture and food industry.

Sunflower oil production in Ukraine back in 2020 amounted to 6.45 million metric tonnes (MT), in Russia, 4.45 million MT, and in the EU 3.9 million MT. These are the three most important production areas in the entire world, while all the others are much smaller producers. The Ukrainian sunflower oil industry is focused on the export market because as much as 90 percent of production is intended for foreign markets, according to USDA data. Compared to Russia, which is the second largest producer, they consume almost 30 percent of their own sunflower oil production on their own market.

"In total, ports in the Black Sea account for almost 80 percent of the world's sunflower oil exports, and today these areas are war zones. Given the strong dominance of Ukraine and Russia on the global sunflower oil market, Russia's attack on Ukraine has caused an enormous impact on the global sunflower market, which is why it's important to change the strategic thinking about the production of Croatian sunflower oil,'' Smarter experts noted.

Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine has significantly disrupted that large Eastern European nation's sunflower oil industry and supply chain, while an extension of the conflict threatens the next growing season. Plants which process sunflower seeds into oil have largely ceased operations, and the closure of ports prevents exports. Sunflowers are sown in Ukraine in April and May, and the harvest usually begins in September. There is a huge risk now when it comes to supply and demand because military actions are taking place in agricultural areas - many roads are blocked, commercial companies aren't working, farmers can't plant, and it's very difficult to get raw materials for quality sowing (fertiliser, fuel, protective equipment, and the like).

The main areas of sunflower seed cultivation in Ukraine are located in the steppe and forest-steppe zones of the country, located in the central and eastern provinces. The main production regions are Dnepropetrovsk, Kirovograd, Kharkov, Zaporozhye, Nikolaev, Lugansk, Odessa and Poltava, which together make up 62 percent of the total sown area in the country. Due to the export market orientation, most of the Ukrainian plants for sunflower processing and production of sunflower oil are located near the Black Sea ports for logistical convenience. It's now evident that the most important production basins and the possibility of delivery are endangered by the ongoing war.

In addition, Russia has announced restrictions on sunflower oil exports and a ban on the supply of sunflower seeds to ease pressure on Russian prices. All this causes great nervousness and fear for global supply and demand, and the price and availability of sunflower oil.

Could Croatian sunflower products and oil find a silver lining and find a new position for itself?

The lack of sunflower oil on markets around the world is trying to be compensated for based on available stocks, and new routes of supply from South America or South Africa. But this will not be enough to make up for the quantities which would usually be coming from the markets of Ukraine and Russia. EU oilseed processors are also increasing their sunflower oil production, in part by using sunflower seed imports from South America.

"In the EU, the processing of sunflower into sunflower oil is growing rapidly and strongly, more than expected. It's estimated to reach 9.3 to 9.4 million tonnes by the end of this processing season (July 2022), compared to 8 million tonnes in the previous season. The largest increases in production are being recorded in Romania, Bulgaria, France, Hungary and Spain with very favourable profit margins. We're also looking for substitutes for sunflower oil in other types of oil, especially palm oil, but also soybean oil, rapeseed oil, olive oil and other types of fats that can replace sunflower oil,'' said the group of Smarter experts.

The return to the use of palm oil across Europe is causing great dissatisfaction with the link between these goods and deforestation, but the move is necessary and temporary, as for now there is no viable alternative. Rapeseed oil, which until now was mostly intended for the biodiesel production market, is now being redirected to food use.

The price of sunflower oil on the global market

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, sunflower prices were high, mainly due to the low yield from back in 2021, which was affected by weather extremes, and the growth of sunflower consumption led to a strong increase in demand for animal feed in China and supply chain disruptions caused by the global COVID-19 crisis.

The war in Ukraine significantly increased the prices of sunflower oil and sunflower seeds. The biggest price increase came immediately after the outbreak of the war, when sunflower oil prices across the EU rose to around 2,900 to 3,000 US dollars per tonne in mid-March, while in February the average price was just 1,490 dollars per tonne.

In early April, sunflower oil prices in Europe fell slightly. More Ukrainian sunflower oil began to arrive on the market at a price of about 1,900 to 2,250 dollars per tonne. Certain quantities of deliveries from Russia began to appear at a price of 1,800 to 1,900 dollars per tonne. Russian sellers are offering oil and other agricultural products at discounted prices on the world market in an effort to encourage foreign buyers to buy and reduce current high inventories.

In the European Union, in some places sunflower oil even fell below the price of rapeseed oil, reflecting declining demand due to the unusually high prices in the first half of March. That said, sunflower oil supplies will remain relatively small across the EU as long as the war in Ukraine lasts, which is why there are fears of further developments in the global market.

Croatian sunflower oil production

Back in 2020, Croatia sowed sunflowers over 39,000 hectares, while 120,000 tonnes of sunflower were produced with a yield of 3.1 t / ha, which is at the level of the best EU yields. There has also been a significant increase in purchase prices in 2022, caused by global uncertainty, which increased the price to 4.70 kn / kg in March this year, while sunflower prices in previous years were around 2kn / kg.

Wholesale prices of sunflower oil back in March were already over 12 kn / kg, at the beginning of May the price reached 15.78 kn / kg, while last year at the beginning of the year they were around 8.5 kn / kg. With the war in Ukraine having broken out following Russian invasion, that growth only intensified.

We can be satisfied with the achieved yields in the production of oilseeds, because Croatian sunflower production is above both the global and the European average. Therefore, we can say that we're competitive in the production of oilseeds on the global market, and that should ensure our stability in the next challenging period.

“Regarding the production of Croatian sunflower oil; the country produces almost 40,000 tonnes of crude sunflower oil and about 60,000 tonnes of refined sunflower oil. In recent years, Croatia has been raising its sunflower production, and is a major exporter and at the same time a major importer of said oil. As such, in 2020, Croatia imported a total of 69,079 tonnes of sunflower oil, of which 45,000 tonnes were from neighbouring Serbia and 18,000 tonnes from neighbouring Hungary, while exports of Croatian sunflower oil stood at 42,767 tonnes.

In 2021, Croatian exports increased to 45,070 tonnes, and the country imported as many as 78,572 tonnes of sunflower oil. During 2020, 60,537 tonnes of sunflower seeds were exported, while in 2021 these exports increased to 64,664 tonnes. There is room for the growth of domestic processing for domestic needs, as well as for exports, and this should be an important strategic decision of the government at this time if we want to ensure the stability of the domestic market, but also become an interesting player and supplier of this sought after product across the rest of Europe.

The worst thing that can happen to Croatia is that this season we uncontrollably export far larger quantities of sunflower than we have so far, and that the domestic market remains dependent on imports of expensive sunflower oil as the final product,'' concluded Smarter's expert.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Smart Museum Presented as Part of Karlovac Smart City Strategy

May the 18th, 2022 - The Karlovac Smart City strategy recently saw the presentation of a digital temperature monitoring project as part of the Smart Museum project.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Smart Museum project for the digital monitoring of temperature, humidity and other conditions for the proper storing museum exhibits, was presented at the Karlovac City Museum as part of the "Karlovac Smart City" strategy.

The implementation envisages equipping the museum with smart systems for the measuring and remote reading and monitoring of the interdependence of the space's conditions (temperature, humidity) and energy consumption in order to save energy, save financially, and ultimately increase the security of museum materials.

The solution is based on a unique Internet of Things (IoT) platform through which a network of sensors has been set up to monitor various parameters in real time and is part of the far larger Sensors project, in which one million kuna has been invested.

The digital monitoring of various data has been introduced in utility companies, in some schools, in "smart" car parks, and now in the museum in the city centre and in the Vjekoslav Karas Gallery. All of the digitisation work was performed in cooperation with the following companies: Koncar - Electronics and Informatics, Koncar Digital and Transmitters and Communications (OiV).

Brancar Steko, the Director of Sales and Business Development at one of the aforementioned Koncar companies, explained that the IoT platform works through their MARS interface, which can connect many different types of data in one single place and process and present it all to different users, so the system and target data can be accessed online.

An alarm is sounded to users if sensors report unacceptable deviations. In the museum, these are deviations in humidity and temperature or a recorded motion sensor. Marko Serdarevic, a member of the Management Board and Director General for Sales and Development of OiV, believes that the "Smart Museum" project, which is part of the Karlovac Smart City strategy, is in the public interest for the protection of cultural heritage and that it should be an example to other museums when it comes to adopting such a solution.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Gradac Municipality Investing 1.5 Million Kuna in Waterfront Revamp

May the 18th, 2022 - The Gradac Municipality has decided to invest 1.5 million kuna in giving the waterfront a bit of a facelift of sorts, as part of a wider plan totalling approximately 5 million kuna.

As Morski writes, the Gradac Municipality has announced this year's plan for the management of its maritime domain, in the maintenance of which it will invest around 5 million kuna.

These funds will be raised partly from the budget, partly from fees for concessions and concession approvals, as well as from fees for the use of maritime domain paid by the owners of boats and yachts entered in the register of boats, and from compensation for damage caused by the possible pollution of the maritime domain there.

The plan published in the Municipal Gazette also lists the micro-locations where concession approvals will be issued for certain activities, and the plan for investment in maritime domain in the wider Gradac Municipality.

The Gradac Municipality plans to invest the largest amount of the aforementioned 5 million kuna in funds, around 1.5 million kuna, in the revamping of the waterfront in Gradac, around 340,000 kuna will be invested in the construction of the promenade in Obala Street, and a ''makeover'' of Sunce beach is also planned. An adaptation of the beach for dogs and the construction of the Bosac Roman park are also planned.

Investments in the maritime domain are also planned in Drvenik. About 400 thousand kuna will be spent on the adaptation of the port of Cmilja, 150 thousand kuna will be invested in the first phase of the reconstruction of the west coast of Donja Vala, and there is a plan to install some new ramps at the same location. The revamping of the beach and the paving of the waterfront is expected this year in Zaostrog as well, where the current plan is to pave the waterfront and spend 350 thousand kuna on doing so, as well as to do up the beach in front of Begovi, which will come with a 220 thousand kuna price tag.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Čović Calls for Single Croatian Policy Towards Croats in BiH

ZAGREB, 17 May 2022 - The head of the Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dragan Čović, said on Tuesday he appreciated Croatian President Zoran Milanović's advocacy, calling on Croatia's top officials to pursue a single foreign policy in order to more strongly contribute to improving the status of BiH Croats.

President Milanović on Monday called on Croat politicians in BiH to state whether they supported his efforts to make Finland and Sweden's NATO accession conditional on amendment of the BiH election law to the benefit of local Croats. Milanović's statement was described by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković as irresponsible exhibitionism that would not help the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"I appreciate what he (Milanović) has been doing recently. I'm glad that he has shown special interest in the status of the Croat people in BiH and has thus strongly mobilised also Croatian citizens as well as Croat representatives in BiH. I expect all current initiatives, including diplomatic ones regarding Finland and Sweden, to be agreed on among Croatian foreign policy actors. Then they will have a chance to be successful and I am confident that today the most important thing is to preserve the unity within the Croat people in BiH," said Čović.

According to Čović, it would be bad if Croats from BiH and from Croatia became divided over the issue of international integration.

"I was clearly told that I should contribute fully so that we do not become divided in any way over issues such as whether someone will enter into some association tomorrow, be that a security or some other association. We simply have to preserve our unity and must not be divided on any issue," Čović said.

He added that he communicates regularly with President Milanović and Prime Minister Plenković and that he expects leading Croatian officials to reach an agreement on ways to improve the status of the BiH Croats.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Constitutional Law Experts Opposed to Milanović's Idea to Abolish Court

ZAGREB, 17 May 2022 - Constitutional law experts have said that they consider President Zoran Milanović's idea to abolish the Constitutional Court to be bad and absurd.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Monday that the questions in two referendum petitions launched by the opposition Bridge party - on abolishing mandatory COVID passes and transferring the powers of the national COVID response team to Parliament - were not in line with the Constitution.

The decision elicited a strong reaction from the Bridge party, which said that the court was the "HDZ's puppet," while President Milanović went a step further, saying that Constitutional Court judges had carried out "a coup d'etat" and that the court's decision showed the court should be abolished.

"What those ten judges did is a coup d'etat. That court needs to be abolished by a referendum so they can see what the will of the people means and what it means when 400,000 people consciously sign a petition. They dared check the mental state and sobriety of 400,000 Croatians who clearly called for amendment of the Constitution," Milanović said on Monday.

A constitutional law professor at the Osijek Faculty of Law, Mato Palić, told Hina that Milanović's idea about abolishing the Constitutional Court "is a bad idea with a bad motive."

"If state institutions were to be abolished because someone wasn't satisfied with their decisions, not one of them would remain," Palić said.

A retired law professor from the University of Zagreb and a former member of the task force that created the Constitution, Branko Smerdel, considers Milanović's idea to be absurd and contrary to the essence of democracy.

Another constitutional law expert from Zagreb's Faculty of Law, Đorđe Gardašević, told Hina that "in its practice until now, the Constitutional Court has made some very good and some not so good decisions, or rather the reasoning of its decisions. Nevertheless, I believe that the Constitutional Court, just like any other institution, should continue to be built and improved."

"A good way for that is critical, primarily scholarly questioning its decisions. I would never abolish the Constitutional Court as an institution because it can and has to be one of the important brakes and a balance between the three main branches of government in the country," Gardašević concluded.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

State Attorney General Won't Comment on Statements Made by President, PM

ZAGREB, 17 May 2022 - State Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj Šipek said on Tuesday that she would refrain from commenting on statements made by President Zoran Milanović and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

The Office of the State Attorney General (DORH) says on its website that the responsibility for the statements lies with those who have made them and that everyone should be aware of the constitutional definition of DORH as an autonomous and independent judicial agency.

The State Attorney General does not cave in under pressure caused by statements made by individuals and media and makes decisions exclusively based on facts established in legally prescribed procedures, DORH says, among other things, on its web site, following the exchange of accusations between the president and the prime minister over the case of Defence Minister Mario Banožić and Milanović's insistence that Banožić should be arrested due to suspicion of favouritism at the time when he was State Assets Minister.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Milanović Says Plenković Violating Constitution in Banožić Case

ZAGREB, 17 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Tuesday described as unconstitutional Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's having talked to the State Attorney General after Milanović publicly wondered what the State Attorney General was doing regarding a case of favouritism involving Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

"His having phoned the State Attorney General is unconstitutional, it's serious enough to warrant impeachment," Milanović said.

The president on Monday again raised the question of what the state prosecutor was doing concerning Banožić whom he accused of favouritism in a case of state property lease of two years ago, when Banožić served as the state assets minister.

Following months-long row between Milanović and Banožić over issues concerning the defence sector as well as topics from the state assets department, Milanović yesterday said that Banožić should be incarcerated.

This prompted Plenković to state on Monday evening that he urged State Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj Šipek not to take heed of politically motivated inflammatory rhetoric against Banožić.

"I can't remember any case of public office-holders having so loudly and clearly upbraided DORH, and I told this to Hrvoj Šipek whom I contacted earlier in the day and told her that (Milanović's campaign against Banožić) is unacceptable and shameful," Plenković said.

Milanović said today Plenković phoned Hrvoj Šipek to tell her "not to touch his man".

He said that Plenković's behaviour was against the Constitution and sufficient reason to oust the prime minister.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Topic of Protection of LGBTQIA+ Persons' Rights Often Marginalised in Croatia

ZAGREB, 17 May 2022 - Protection and improvement of LGBTQIA+ persons' rights in Croatia, even though it should be one of the most important topics when discussing human rights, is often marginalised, European Parliament member Predrag Matić of the Social Democratic Party said on Tuesday.

"I emphasise that the current European Parliament has declared the European Union an LGBTQIA+ freedom zone in response to homophobic and discriminatory measures in some member-countries," Matić said at an event at Europe House, dedicated to the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia.

"Additionally, there is an LGBTQIA+ group in the European Parliament bringing together 148 deputies from five different political groups, which is proof that the protection of LGBTQIA+ persons' rights is really high on the agenda in this term," he said.

Matić noted that the European Parliament has adopted many documents that directly or indirectly warn about discriminatory practices in the EU, demand changes and promote the rights of LGBTQIA+ persons.

"We have strongly reacted on several occasions to homophobic initiatives... in Poland, Hungary and Romania," he said.

The event at Europe House was opened by the head of the European Parliament Office in Croatia, Violeta Simeonova Staničić, who said that LGBTQIA+ persons should know that Europe House was also their house.

Danijel Martinović of the Rainbow Families association said that they were frequently contacted by young LGBTQIA+ persons seeking information about their rights in Croatia with regard to life partnership, starting a family and prospects of staying in Croatia.

"The experiences of young LGBTQIA+ persons in Croatia are not that great, I think that we, older LGBTQIA+ persons, should show responsibility and mentor and help them as much as possible," Martinović said.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

MP: Constitutional Court Shouldn't be Abolished, but Appointment Criteria Should be Changed

ZAGREB, 17 May 2022 - MP Sandra Benčić (Green-Left Bloc) said on Tuesday there was no need to abolish the Constitutional Court but that the criteria for the appointment of its judges need to be changed because their decision on Monday is "legal nonsense that will be used as an example for law students".

"The Constitutional Court should not be abolished because it has had some good decisions, however, the criteria for the appointment of Constitutional Court judges should be changed. The Constitutional Court's reasoning behind the decision on the initiative 'Let's decide together' will be used as an example of poor practice for future students," Benčić said.

She was commenting on the Constitutional Court's conclusion that the questions in two referendum petitions launched by the opposition Bridge party - on abolishment of mandatory COVID passes and the transfer of the powers of the national COVID response team to Parliament - were not in line with the Constitution, and President Zoran Milanović's comment that the court should be abolished.

As for Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's request to Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj Šipek regarding Milanović's calling out Defence Minister Mario Banožić and calling on Hrvoj Šipek to launch an investigation against Banožić, Benčić said: "We are not talking about interfering in the work of the attorney general here but about leading the Office of the Attorney General (DORH)."

Plenković on Monday said that he had "asked DORH, as an independent judicial institution, to not listen to political incitement to action, as it goes against all the principles of the separation of powers".

Radimir Čačić, leader of the Reformists, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, and the opposition Bridge party today sharply criticised Plenković's request.

Commenting on a statement by President Milanović that "Banožić should be put in prison", Benčić said that no one at the head of any institution that can influence any decision making should be calling for anyone's arrest but that the prime minister's role is not the same as that of the president, who has no powers whatsoever.

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